Monday, September 09, 2013

Björn again in Switzerland

Thomas Björn was crowned King of the Mountains for the second time in three years after defeating Scotland’s Craig Lee in a play-off in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland. The Dane holed a 12ft birdie putt on the first extra hole after Lee had earlier agonisingly lipped out with a birdie chance on the same hole in regulation play. Lee’s miss meant they tied on 20 under par after Björn’s six under par 65 and Lee’s 67, with Björn sinking that superb putt in the play-off to claim his 14th European Tour title. It was also his second success at Crans-sur-Sierre having won the title in 2011, when he carded a final round 62 to finish ahead of Martin Kaymer, a week after winning the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. This time his success owe more to experience and patience than form, but that combination proved to be a potent one for Björn, who now moves up to eighth in The Race to Dubai and back into the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking. “I came into this not feeling particularly great about my golf,” he said. “I played pretty poorly over the last couple of weeks, but I’ve got a long standing love relationship with this course. I’ve finished runner up here twice and now won twice “It is a golf course that suits me. I came in and I knew the one good thing about my game was my wedge game and you need that this week. I just stuck to everything I had and I never really let myself down this week. I had that bit between my teeth that made me go that little bit extra.” Björn described his performance across the week as ‘mature’ and it needed to be to hold off a determined challenge from Lee, who fired himself into a two shot overnight lead with a scintillating 61 on Saturday. Lee opened with a birdie on the first, but had to wait 11 more holes for his next, during which time Björn hit the front after a superb front nine 31, that included four birdies in five holes. Björn could only manage one by comparison on the back nine, on the 15th, while Lee managed to rediscover his touch on the greens with birdies on the 12th, 14th and 15th. But when he required just one more to capture his maiden European Tour title, his putt shaved the hole on the last, opening the door for Björn who duly took advantage in the play-off. “It was a lot down to experience today, especially in knowing that it was going all the way to the end on this course,” said Björn. “The last time I won here I was five under for the last five holes. “Today was a completely different story as those holes played quite tricky. I just knew that I needed to make sure I didn’t make any silly mistakes. I knew if I could make par and knock off one or two birdies at the end it could be enough. It was a very experienced day, but the whole week, the way I played was very experienced. “This year I have come up short a couple of times and it hurt losing to Ernie in Munich because I played really well. I came into this week desperate to win a golf tournament, so this win is very sweet for me. I really wanted to get over the line. I’m 42 and you start thinking when is it going to be the last one. “ After starting the week 108th on The Race to Dubai, Lee can seek consolation in the fact that his €244,440 cheque not only secured his playing rights for 2014, but also moved him into 55th position on the rankings, and inside the top 60 qualification spots for the end of season DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. “I would certainly have taken second place before the week started,” he said. “Even after the first round when I was level par and border cut line. So I’m delighted with my performance. “The putter was pretty cold the first nine but nobody was running away from it. Thomas made a charge but didn’t capitalise on the two par fives. That let me back in and I dug deep and managed to birdie the two par fives myself and gave myself a chance coming down the last and just lipped out on the last. Then Thomas made a brilliant three in the play off.  “I couldn’t have hit the putt any better in regulation. I was delighted when it left the putter and it was tracking all the way. Maybe a little more pace would have held it on line but it wasn’t to be. “ Frenchman Victor Dubuisson finished third on 19 under par after his second consecutive round of 66, with Spaniard Alejandro Cañizares fourth on 18 under par following a 67. Ryder Cup players Ross Fisher and Miguel Angel Jiménez, the 2010 champion, finished in a share of fifth position after rounds of 66 and 67 respectively

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